Fort Lewis College desperately needed a win to break an oh-fer in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play and a five-game overall losing streak.
The Skyhawks responded with one of their best performances of the year.
Van Gramman ran for 78 yards to power a season-high 109-yard team rushing effort, and FLC held Western State scoreless in the second half Saturday for a 27-10 win over the Mountaineers in Gunnison.
The FLC defense, bruised by the running game of Colorado Mesa a week ago, was rock solid Saturday. They started the game by sacking WSC quarterback Jamie Jensen for a safety just 56 seconds into the game.
The Skyhawks allowed just 52 yards rushing and kept the Mountaineers trapped at 10 points in the second half aided by a pair of fumble recoveries.
We figured wed make less mental errors if we kept the game plan really simple, and we did, FLC head coach Cesar Rivas said.
While the defense kept Western State at bay, the offense came to play.
Quarterback Tim Jenkins connected with Jonathan Price for a 77-yard touchdown pass just 43 seconds after halftime, stunting whatever momentum Western State had from cutting the lead to 16-10 right before intermission. A two-point conversion run by Gramman put the Skyhawks up 24-10.
Hes a workhorse, Rivas said.
Ryan Baldwin added a 20-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Jenkins threw for 245 yards, and Price caught five balls for 158 yards and the score to go with an acrobatic catch that set up another score. Eric Hills and Nick Sharp paced the defense with seven tackles apiece.
Tim and Jonathan are starting to gain a bit of momentum, Rivas said of his deep pitch-catch combo.
Western States offense took a hit with the loss of Germaine Daniels in the first half. Daniels managed just 46 yards rushing before leaving the game. Jensen finished with 289 yards passing with one touchdown.
Gramman caught the first of quarterback Tim Jenkins three touchdown passes late in the first quarter, scoring on an 11-yard screen pass to give FLC a 9-0 lead. Lloyd Tucker answered with a field goal in the second quarter, but Jenkins responded with a 4-yard toss to freshman tight end Jordan Sloat to put FLC in front 16-3.
Western State responded with a two-minute drill, scoring on Jensens 24-yard strike to Curtis Prock with 21 seconds left in the half.
Rivas said the play of some reserves gives him confidence heading into next weeks Musket Game tilt with Adams State.
We have a ton of injuries right now, and to watch guys step up ... take the handoff of the flag we talk about passing the flag, and those guys ran with it. the Skyhawks head coach said.